4 Min Read
* U.S. shares inch up ahead of Trump healthcare bill vote
* European shares jump after banks snap up ECB cash
* Safe-haven gold, Treasuries, yen steady
* Oil prices fall on supply concerns (Updates to open of U.S. trading; changes byline, dateline, pvs LONDON)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, March 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose slightly on Thursday, with gains limited by signs that President Donald Trump was struggling to get enough votes to pass a healthcare bill in Congress, while European shares rose on bank borrowing and oil prices slipped.
U.S. investors remained in suspense, with Trump poised to make a final push to secure the votes needed to begin dismantling Obamacare in the House of Representatives, amid signs enough Republicans might defect to jeopardize one of his top legislative priorities.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was last up 68.95 points, or 0.33 percent, at 20,730.25. The S&P 500 gained 8.92 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,357.37. The Nasdaq Composite was up 17.67 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,839.31.
In Europe, equity markets gained as banks took up 233.5 billion euros of four-year loans in the European Central Bank's last targeted longer-term refinancing operation (TLTRO), well above the 125 billion euros expected in a Reuters poll. That suggested banks are keen to stock up on cheap cash in anticipation of a continued rise in lending.
Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index was last up 0.73 percent, at 1,486.27.
MSCI's all-country world equity index was last up 1.61 points, or 0.36 percent, at 448.53.
U.S. Republican leaders hoped to vote on Thursday on the healthcare bill but there were signs the deadline could be pushed back.
Analysts have warned that losing or delaying the bill would bruise investors' confidence in Trump's ability to deliver on his promises of tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
Concerns about delays in fiscal reform helped send stocks lower earlier this week, with the benchmark U.S. S&P 500 index hitting five-week lows and the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares hitting roughly two-week lows on Wednesday.
"Investors are concerned ... if this vote goes poorly, then what are the implications for tax reform and repatriation of offshore capital," said John Traynor, chief investment officer at People's United Bank in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Prices on safe-haven spot gold touched a more than three-week high of $1,253.12 and the dollar touched a fresh four-month low against the Japanese yen of 110.64 yen, but both stabilized and last traded little changed on the day.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries prices were also little changed, with yields last at 2.410 percent from 2.396 percent late Wednesday.
Those safe-haven assets rallied Wednesday on doubts over Trump's ability to implement pro-growth policies.
Oil prices dipped, struggling to recover from four-month lows amid investor concerns that OPEC-led supply cuts were not yet reducing record U.S. crude inventories.
"Headwinds from rising production and compliance issues will keep the upside limited for now," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, adding that risks were "skewed to the downside" and the upside for Brent was limited to $53.
Brent crude was last down 17 cents, or 0.34 percent, at $50.47 a barrel after hitting $49.71 Wednesday, its lowest level since Nov. 30.U.S. crude was down 27 cents, or 0.56 percent, at $47.77 per barrel. (Additional reporting by Marc Jones and Edmund Blair in London, Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, and Karen Brettell in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)